With the rainy season expected to start in a couple of weeks or month, ZAKA ABD-KHALIQ writes on the need for farmers to subscribe to Agric Insurance products to protect them from risks that may occur during farming season
Rainy season, across the world, is a blessing to farmers, as plants have enough water to keep them alive and give farmers good harvest.
Africa, no doubt, has a deep culture rooted in farming as it was mainly the source of livelihood of our fore-fathers before the advent of civilisation.
To this end, the continent has large fertile lands that favour farming, coupled with its predictable weather and consistent rainfall of which most countries in Europe cannot boast of.
Nigeria is not an exemption in this regard, even though farming is not as popular as it was in the olden days. Nigerian farmers always make adequate planning for this period, so that they can have bountiful harvests. Majorly, farming season in Nigeria is between April and October of every year, a cycle that is only altered once in a while because of global warming.
But just like every human endeavour that is associated with risks, agriculture, of which farming is part of is not an exemption. Agriculture is exposed to adverse natural events, such as drought, flood, windstorm, pest, diseases, among others.
The impact and economic costs of such disasters, according to experts, may increase further in the near future because of climatic factors occasioned by climate change, while these events, in most cases, can impoverish the concerned farmers if not checked or controlled.
To this end, there is the need for risk mitigation mechanism to ensure that farmers and other players in agricultural value chain don’t run at a loss, whenever an insured risk occurs.
It was in the realisation of the need to insure farmers and investors in the agric sector that some insurance companies are now into Agric Insurance after the regulators have given them approval.
Apart from Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIC), whose sole responsibility is agric insurance, underwriting firms such as; Linkage Assurance, Leadway Assurance, IGI Plc, AIICO Insurance Plc, Royal Exchange Plc, Prestige Assurance PLC, among others, are now offering Agric products in a bid to insure risk in both animal and plant farming.
With this development, farmers can now go home and sleep, having paid the required premium, knowing-full well that insurers are there to absorb risks that come their way in farming.
Agricultural insurance protects against loss of or damage to crops or livestock. It has great potential to provide value to low-income farmers and their communities, both by protecting farmers when shocks occur and by encouraging greater investment in crops.
Agricultural insurance can indemnify policyholders for losses, though such indemnity products are relatively rare due to the high costs of administration and the risk of fraud. More commonly, agricultural microinsurance is index-based, providing farmers with payouts tied to the performance of an index (such as a rainfall gauge), rather than indemnifying them for crop losses actually experienced.
The premium to be paid to insure crops and livestock is usually between 2.2 to 6 per cent of the cost of the assets. The coverage is usually for a year, but there are short term agric products as well, depending on the choice of the insured.
Companies Offering Agric Insurance Products
The major responsibility of NAIC is agric insurance and to this end, the company has assured its insured farmers and farmer groups, in various states of the federation, being ravished by floods or other insured agric risks that it will compensate them for their losses.
The managing director of the corporation, Mrs. Folashade Joseph, noted that NAIC is very mindful of its corporate responsibility to give them relief and ploughing them back to prosperity through prompt payment of appropriate compensations.
Apart from insuring risk of loss of crops from flood, she said, NAIC provides insurance against crop losses arising from fire, lightening, drought and pests.
Moreover, she stated that the risks of death of, or injury to, livestock caused by accident, disease, fire, lightening, storm or flood are insured by NAIC, adding that the assessed premium payable to the corporation is 50 per cent subsidized by Federal and State governments.
In the same vein, Leadway Assurance Company Limited has also been licensed by the National Insurance Commission(NAICOM) to write agric insurance and some of its policies are; Leadway Fish Farm Insurance Policy, Leadway Farm Property and Produce Insurance Policy, Leadway Multiperils Crop Insurance Policy and Leadway Livestock Insurance Policy. Royal Exchange Plc said it had received approval from NAICOM to underwrite agric business as well.
The regulatory body also gave approval to AIICO Insurance PLC to underwrite agricultural business in the country.
Speaking on the development, its managing director/CEO, Mr. Edwin Igbiti, said, the company was taking strategic position to be a major player in offering of agriculture Insurance products so as to deliver the much needed protection to the different players in the agricultural value chain. The firm, he said, is uniquely positioned to offer Agriculture Insurance to Nigerian farmers at all levels, as well as investors looking to tap into the huge potentials of the sector, through its value-based insurance propositions.
Linkage Assurance Plc is now ready to commence underwriting agriculture insurance after it secured the approval of NAICOM.
This, according to the firm, would enable Linkage support the farmers and service providers in the agriculture value chain for greater sustainability and economic growth.
The insurer said the Nigeria’s agribusiness sector needs insurance to remain sustainable and achieve long term growth expectation, urging stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to embrace insurance by reducing retained risk and transferring the burden to insurers for effective risk management, promising to underwrite agric risks for operators in that sector.
Industrial And General Insurance Plc is a pioneer insurer underwriting risks in the agricultural sector of the nation’s economy.
While calling on its insured farmers to make all efforts possible to avert and minimise the untoward effects of the torrential rains and flood on their farms, the NAIC boss urged the insured flood victims to inform the nearest NAIC office, in their State, of their travails to appropriately support them in a timely manner.
To other farmers who might have suffered from losses arising from the flood but did not have agric cover, she urged them to, in future, take advantage of the agricultural insurance solutions of the corporation, in accordance with the policies of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to offer protection to farmers who have answered the patriotic call to go back to agriculture.
Speaking at a seminar, the director, Inspectorate, NAICOM, Mr. Barineka Thompson, disclosed that the commission had earlier granted product approval to five insurers participating in the Index-Based Agricultural Insurance (IBAI) pilot scheme.
He anticipated that more insurance companies will join as a result of greater awareness and the upcoming capacity building programme on index-based agricultural insurance.
The approval granted to the five underwriting firms, he said, are in line with the ongoing efforts by the federal government to diversify the Nigerian economy and create opportunities to promote Agric. business and employment, stressing that IBAI is a programme in support of the policy of government.
NAICOM, he said, is collaborating with NIRSAL on the initiative, stating that the pilot scheme is currently running in 10 states. The states include; Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kaduna, Kano, Kasina, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states, while the crops covered by this initiative are; rice, maize, soya and sorghum.
Reacting to this, the Managing Director, NIRSAL, Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, also disclosed that in addition to the partnership with the Kenyan firm, the Federal Government had signed partnership agreements with a leading Moroccan agricultural insurance as well as a reinsurance company to provide technical support in expanding the range of agricultural insurance products in Nigeria.
Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari, had said Index Insurance was a new concept in Nigeria and in sub-Sahara Africa, stating that it was pertinent to build capacity to enhance progress in the drive to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in underwriting index-based agricultural insurance in Nigeria.
On his part, the Deputy Managing Director/Chief Operating Officer, African Reinsurance Corporation, Mr. Ken Aghoghovbia, stated that subsidies on Index Products in Agriculture insurance had a lot of promise in the continent, especially as food security is becoming a major concern for policy makers in developing country.
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